Sheriff and ex-lawman launch campaign barbs
With his opponent from Hoytsville gaining momentum, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds says voters should support the man with the most experience and education on Election Day.
The Republican incumbent was absent last week from a political debate in Kamas when Edmunds’ challenger, independent write-in candidate Brody Taylor, blasted the policies of one of the county’s top cops.
Edmunds, who is 34 years old, has "forgotten the people," Taylor told a crowd of about 40 people who gathered Oct. 11 to hear from the candidate.
A former county deputy, Taylor says he regrets supporting Edmunds in the defeat of Kamas Democrat Joe Offret, when Edmunds became sheriff four years ago.
Taylor slammed the sheriff for allowing Sheriff’s Office brass to drive gas-guzzling Ford Expeditions.
"It just blows my mind," Taylor said, adding that the vehicles get between eight and 10 miles to the gallon.
He also criticized Edmunds for establishing a "quota" system during the incumbent’s first term as sheriff.
"There is a point system in place It’s a quota system and I’m dead set against a quota system," Taylor said, adding that deputies are strongly encouraged to issue citations. "If you fail to meet a certain amount of points, it says you can be terminated."
Meanwhile, Edmunds insists he wasn’t invited to participate in last week’s forum in Kamas, which was sponsored by the Summit County Farm Bureau.
The sheriff, however, says he will attend an event at 7 p.m. at North Summit High School in Coalville, during which Edmunds and Taylor are slated to debate.
"A leader has to understand how to administrate, and a leader has to understand the basics, and a leader has to be someone who is capable of inspiring his subordinates," Edmunds said. "[Taylor] is none of those things."
Having spent most of his nine years as a county employee working in corrections, Taylor isn’t prepared for the rigors of overseeing 110 employees and the department’s $8 million budget, Edmunds said.
"He’s currently not even in law enforcement. I think you have to ask yourself the question, why does somebody leave a job before they secure another one?" the sheriff said.
But Edmunds and members of his administration "forced" him to resign in June, Taylor claimed.
Meanwhile, Edmunds insisted promises he made to voters four years ago were kept, adding, "I have a whole other set of goals and things that my office is going to deliver on."
If re-elected, Edmunds would assign a full-time detective to tracking down Internet predators.
"I feel it’s a huge problem that we face with children," he said.
Chat rooms are often surfed by child molesters looking for prey, the sheriff said.
"We have to make sure that we have an appropriate law-enforcement presence on the Internet," Edmunds said. "We have already made arrests of sex offenders who have come up here under the pretense that they are meeting with a 14-year old girl."
By stiffening office procedures, Edmunds says he would also push his deputies during his second term to achieve national accreditation standards that could result in lower insurance premiums for the county.
"I want to up the ante," Edmunds said. "The last four years have been about trying to get the Sheriff’s Office to a level I was comfortable with."
Key to running the department for the next four years will be strategic planning, he said, adding that the Summit County Jail must expand in the next two decades.
Still, Edmunds, if re-elected, says he expects challenges that could involve improving the accountability and training of county deputies.
"I want experts in specific disciplines," he said. "We have experts in some fields, but we’re currently not there yet."
The sheriff touted a bachelor’s degree he recently received from Weber State University, adding, "[Taylor] has no formalized education and his experience is shockingly inadequate."
But Edmunds wasn’t a college graduate when elected, Taylor countered.
"Edmunds was young when he took office, he still is young," said Taylor, who is 31 years old. "I believe with the right administration and a few changes with the people who are there now, that Sheriff’s Office could be turned around."
Other candidates expected to debate at North Summit High School tonight at 7 p.m. include those running for Summit County clerk and a seat on the Summit County Commission.
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.